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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Wonderless by Shelby Raebeck follows a teenager named Little Man and his friends as they navigate the historical, cultural, and generational changes as part of the younger generation in the 21st century. Little Man was conceived on September 11, 2001, the day of the attacks on the twin towers in New York. Growing up without a father and raised by a mother who has difficulty caring for herself, Little Man is eventually sent to live with his paternal Uncle Lanny, a Desert Storm vet, in Hell's Kitchen. Soon, he takes to ziplining over the rooftops of Hell's Kitchen's buildings, using clamping cables and pulleys alongside a similar group of young teens abandoned by society at large. Finally, after embarking on an illuminating cross-country trip, Little Man and his friends will fly toward the unknown.
A coming-of-age tale depicting the innocent naïveté and carelessness of 21st-century youth, Wonderless is a poignant story rich in the thematic exploration of today's vulnerable generation. Shelby Raebeck's experimental approach to the narrative feels fresh and brings a surreal quality to the tale that keeps you enthralled throughout. The story is layered with social commentary about the new generation of youngsters who are exposed to so much yet somehow remain seemingly oblivious to the happenings of the world around them because of an inherent coping mechanism that detaches them from the horrors of reality. This is not necessarily a plot-driven story, as Raebeck primarily focuses on the thematic aspects of the narrative. Overall, a thought-provoking book that I highly recommend.